Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in Maryland

Whether you drive an electric car, hybrid, alternative fuel vehicle, or some other fuel-efficient automobile, Maryland's general traffic laws apply. In addition to these, MD has enacted a handful of green driving-related regulations to help protect the environment. Read on for details.

As Maryland begins focusing more heavily on environmental matters, the laws might also shift. Keep pace by consulting your local Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center. If it's money-saving perks for eco-friendly drivers you're looking for, also check out our page on Maryland's green driver incentives.

Maryland Emissions Testing for Vehicle Registration

Maryland requires most vehicles to undergo either an on-board diagnostics (OBD) test or idle tailpipe and gas cap test to maintain valid MD vehicle registration. However, if you drive a new hybrid, you might be able to skip the inspection for the first 3 years following its model year. To see which test is right for your vehicle, look into requirements of the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP).

The program exempts the following hybrids for the periods of time listed:

  • 2011 Toyota Pruis is exempt from testing until 2015.
  • 2012 Toyota Prius and Prius C is exempt from testing until 2016

All hybrids must follow the normal VEIP test cycle of every 2 years. Learn more about hybrid vehicle exemptions and full details of the MVA's Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program online.

Converting to an Alternative Fuel Vehicle

If you convert an original equipment manufacturer vehicle to run on an alternative fuel—such as electricity, natural gas, hydrogen gas, biodiesel, ethanol, or propane—your vehicle must comply with the California Air Resources Board standards for aftermarket alternative fuel vehicle conversions. For more resources on AFVs and alternative fuel conversions, consult the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Maryland Vehicle Idling Restrictions

Not only does idling waste a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, it's illegal in Maryland. In fact, the State prohibits vehicle idling for more than 5 consecutive minutes.

In other words, you cannot run your engine when your vehicle is not in motion unless:

  • You are stuck in traffic or your vehicle is having mechanical difficulties that you have no control over.
  • It's necessary to run your vehicle's heating or cooling auxiliary equipment.
  • You must bring the vehicle to the operating temperature recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Idling is necessary to accomplish your vehicle's intended use.

For specifics, refer to the Transportation section of the Maryland Statutes (22-402).

MD Roadway Restrictions for Low-Speed Electric Vehicles

Maryland defines a low-speed vehicle as a four-wheeled electric vehicle bearing a maximum speed capability of more than 20 MPH (mile per hour) but less than 25 MPH. As such, it comes with a few operating restrictions. You may not drive a low-speed electric vehicle on any of the following:

  • Highways with a posted speed limit exceeding 30 MPH.
  • Expressways with signs in accordance with MD Statute 21-313 (including controlled access highways).
  • Highways where a county or municipal ordinance have prohibited low-speed vehicle access.
  • Across highways with a posted speed limit exceeding 45 MPH, unless you're crossing an intersection controlled by either a traffic control signal or a stop sign (per approaching lane).

Refer to the Maryland Statutes for further details: 11-130.1, 21-1125, and 21-313.

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